After reading the question why do I only breathe out of one nostril I realized that breathing out of both isn't common. I have always breathed out of both, and when I get a stuffy nose, or a runny nose, it's on both sides. If only one side is stuffed, I'll just lay on my side a bit to even it out until I can breathe out of both again. I've always though that was totally normal! What does it mean that my autonomous nervous system is not alternating my breathing?

  • $\begingroup$ If you're concerned, talk to a doctor - we can't give you medical advice here. Speaking biologically though, as you can read on the page you linked, we don't really know whether the nasal cycle serves any purpose. The only explanation I've heard is to reduce desensitisation of the olfactory sensors from overstimulation (basically giving each side of the nose alternating breaks). Assuming that, the only effect of a genetic variant that doesn't have a nasal cycle would be a weaker sense of smell. $\endgroup$
    – Armatus
    Sep 13 '14 at 13:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Armatus The nasal cycle may also be an artifact of the way our autonomic nervous systems works in bilaterally symmetric animals. Another hypothesis is nasal defense. I included some links in my answer to the one-nostril question, if you're interested. :) $\endgroup$ Sep 14 '14 at 8:56

The odds are that you're noticing the equality of patent nostrils in the middle of a changeover, when both are equally patent. Also, the shape of your nose may be permitting the congested side to still be fairly patent. Your nose is doing what it's supposed to be doing (and everybody suffers bilateral congestion during colds, allergies, etc.) If it were not, you would be plagued by dry, painful and bleeding nares (um... are you?)


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